Is there a way to acquire immunity to ability drain without changing type or gaining a divine rank?

Assume a humanoid creature type and up to 20 levels.

Prefer (in order):

  1. Permanent innate ability
  2. Time limited innate ability
  3. Item granted ability
  4. SFX granted ability (psi, chi, magic, etc.)

Official sources, please (WotC, or WotC approved, such as Dragon, Dungeon, or official websites).

Not interested in infinite or near infinite loops, pun pun or similar, but CO up through lite TO is otherwise fine.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean without a magic item to do that? A permanent innate ability of the character himself? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 8:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "CO up through lite TO"? I guess it's Character Optimization, but what's the second part? And why are you using codes instead of regular words here? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Theoretical Optimization. Not codes, it's pretty standard terms in the role playing community. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which ability? Physical would be easier than mental. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 10:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related question posted (and self-answered) by you following the above discussion: What do the terms CO and TO mean in the context of characters and builds? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 18:29

4 Answers 4


As mentioned in this fine answer, immunity to ability drain is available from the prestige class bone knight at level 8 from its extraordinary ability exoskeleton of undeath (Five Nations 119) and from the prestige class pale master at level 10 from its extraordinary ability deathless mastery (Libris Mortis 49).

Likewise, as mentioned in this fine answer, perhaps the most readily available source of immunity to ability drain is the held wondrous item talisman of undying fortitude (Magic Item Compendium 188) (8,000 gp; 0 lbs.), it providing the bearer extremely temporary immunity a few times per day.

Also, while not technically granting immunity to ability drain, the slotless wondrous item gray portrait (Champions of Ruin 43) (major artifact; 10 lbs.) sees the portrait suffer the ability drain instead of the portrait's subject, but neither portrait nor owner suffers any mechanical ill effects from that ability drain. Whether such ersatz immunity is sufficient and whether the portrait can be discovered during an adventurer's career depend on the campaign. (Note that a DM may want to rename the gray portrait to the gray picture if he wants to hew more closely to its source material.)

Finally, the 4th-level cleric and 4th-level druid spell sheltered vitality [abjur] (Spell Compendium 188), in addition to other effects, grants immunity to ability drain. Many one-shot ways exist for any creature to use the spell sheltered vitality, from an attuned gem of sheltered vitality (Magic of Faerun 21) (1,600 gp; 0 lbs.) to a grim skull talisman of sheltered vitality (Frostburn 47) (2,800 gp; 0 lbs.) to a rare and ill-advised spellworm of sheltered vitality (Dragon #343 80-1) (1,400 gp; 0 lbs.).


Your best bet, I guess, is Talisman of Undying Fortitude (MIC, p. 188).

There are downsides. It is not innate, it should be activated beforehand, and it must be held.

But upsides outweight them fairly well. It costs a humble 8k gp, it may be activated several times for several rounds, and its activation requires swift action only. You also may carry several of them.


Pale Master prestige class

The Pale Master (Libris Mortis p.47) gains the Deathless Mastery ability at level 10, which grants immunity to ability drain.

You don't acquire the undead type, although your body is partially mummified. The prerequisites of this class can be met by a level 5 wizard, meaning that you acquire this ability as a level 15 total character with the overall spellcasting ability of a level 14 wizard.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Bone knight gets the same, for those following a more paladin-like path. You have your bone armor permanently fused to your flesh, but you're still humanoid. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 21:25

If you are a 'Scaled One', for example a kobold, native to Toril, a Sarrukh (Serpent Kingdoms 80) can grant you any extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like ability in the game regardless of your level without any real restriction, as per its Manipulate Form ability. This includes, for example, the 'undead traits' and 'construct traits' special qualities, which do not of themselves change a creature's type.

Note that, so long as you are native to Toril, you can count as a Scaled One if you want, either by taking a feat or by using Alter Self which changes your subtype but not your type.

This ability is also how one becomes Pun-Pun, so it's not usually well received in games.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, you don't even have to be naive to Toril, if you work it right. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko I am having trouble finding methods other than rebuild rules in PHBII to accomplish that, and that's a little sketchy. Can you quote me one? I feel like I should know this but my search powers have turned up nothing, at least in my search of Savage Species which is where I thought there were things for this (but I might just be missing them...) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 5:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yuan-ti grafts from Toril were ruled to count for purposes of being a scaled one. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 3:23

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